Sarah Lucas: Perceval

About the Exhibition

A leading figure of the infamous Young British Artists (YBAs), Sarah Lucas (b.1962, Holloway, England) is one of the most significant contemporary artists working in London today. This installation marks her first outdoor exhibition in New York.

Perceval is a life-sized bronze sculpture of a Shire horse pulling a cart overflowing with two oversized marrows, or squash. The piece stands 7.5 feet tall by 13 feet long, and weighs 5 tons. The largest breed of draft horses, Shires are also frequently used in official and ceremonial processions by the Royal cavalries. At once an homage to and satire of English culture, the piece is a replica of a popular knick-knack that adorns many mantelpieces in the UK; the subject matter reflects Lucas’s predilection for reexamining everyday objects in unusual contexts. The installation of Perceval at the entrance to Central Park, where horse-drawn carriages line-up daily to offer guided visits of New York, plays off of its urban and pedestrian surroundings. The giant marrows are cast in cement, one of Lucas’s favored materials, providing a striking contrast to the high finish of the painted bronze sculpture. However, here Lucas plays with scale, rendering the vegetables almost equal in size to the horse that pulls them.

Perceval reflects the artist’s fascination with British culture, which is evident in much of her work, while nodding to literary tradition. “Perceval” is the name of the knight in King Arthur’s court who unknowingly discovers the Holy Grail (the cup from which Christ is believed to drink at the Last Supper) and the narrator in Alfred Tennyson’s 1870 work The Holy Grail. More contemporary references include T.S. Eliot’s The Wasteland and Richard Wagner’s opera Parsifal, in which the eponymous hero is the one to recover the spear used to pierce Christ during his crucifixion.



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